Stella Jean: creative métissage and mix&match inspired by the Great Cold

The style of Stella Jean blends her Creole hérédité with a creative métissage in which opposites merge together to create a multiculturalism that does not neglect the identity but promotes the cultural encounter, reflecting the designer's multiethnic path. Through the lines of high tailoring, Stella develops an elegant and conscious style: a continuous crossover that gives life to iconic pieces loved by normal people, as well as fashion insiders. The designer boasts a huge palmarés: she was chosen by Giorgio Armani to walk the catwalk of the Armani/Theater, she exhibited some clothes at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but also acted as speaker at the prestigious "High-level Conference on Responsible Management of the Supply Chain in the Garment Sector”, organized by the European Commission for International Cooperation and Development. Today Stella designs two lines: male and female. Her clothes are chosen by stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé.

Her latest collection is set in a Cold War atmosphere, in an unexploded conflict between passementeries and embroidered details, with medals and military grades of the U.S. Army, combined with the iconic mix&match that characterizes the designer's signature. We had a chat with Stella, let’s discover what she told us…

Why did you choose to dedicate your FW '17 collection to the concept of conflict?

I wanted to propose a very sharp contrast of styles. For me it was an important reflection on the juxtaposition and contrast between stiffness and freedom.

The collection includes the "Backgammon box" clutch, made in Damascus and arrived in Italy as a megaphone for a culture that doesn’t want to succumb. How was this iniziative born?

The "Backgammon Box" was born in collaboration with Sirian designer Assaad Khalaf. Our first meeting took place during my participation in a talk at the Accademia Costume e Moda di Roma. Assaad was there as a student and I was immediately intrigued by his origins and elegance.

Do you think fashion can change things and have a "political" role?

I love to infuse thoughts and ideas into what I create. This kind of creativity is a perfect humus to cultivate ideals and express concepts and it is the right tool to propose a change.

With your collections, you have always given importance to the concept of “cultural heritage”. Do you think designers have some responsibility in communicating values ​​or sometimes fashion can be just "aesthetic"?

In my opinion Fashion is an extraordinary vehicle. It can express purely aesthetical beauty and, at the same time, it can communicate higher values. This is the message I want to pass through my collections: heritage, tradition, innovation and research.

Who is the woman that wears Stella Jean clothes?

She can be a conventional or unconventional woman. She is a person who experiences, combines and metabolizes fashion through her own eyes and does not succumb to fashion dictates of the moment.

In your creative process the theme of travel is often present...

Travel is fundamental for my personal and professional life. Certainly, the most important travel is the one that I still have to do.

What does “femininity” mean for you?

For me femininity means consciousness and courage. "Consciousness" is about learning and knowing how to appreciate the present and how to look for the future. "Courage", on the other hand, is experiencing the unconventional.

Which projects are you currently working on?

"One, No One and One Hundred Thousand" is my latest project, which aims to tell the stories of creative young people and artists from all over the world. The "Backgammon box" is the first piece of this puzzle: I'm very proud of it.

If you had to describe your style, what would you say?

I am an enthusiastic person and I would use three words to define my style: métissage, heritage and irony. "Métissage" as a result of cultural syncretism, "heritage" as elements of my memory, reflected regularly in collections. "Irony", finally, as a key and fundamental element for a light amalgam.

What was the first major breakthrough in your career?

I have a great passion for fashion, born from the necessity to talk about multiculturality. This is the highlight when I realize my collections. Surely the first important moment was the victory of "Who's On Next?" competition in 2011.

How is the creative process of your collections?

Trips and meetings are definitely the starting point, the essential source of my inspiration. That’s why my gaze is always aimed at them and at the possible historical-cultural combinations.

Is there a muse that inspires you?

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, for her strength, courage and determination. It is no coincidence that she's Nobel Peace Prize.

 

How does your day look like?

In the morning it's all a ride, even though I don’s want to wake up early. I always rub five minutes to the alarm clock. Then I go to work, that absorbs me totally. I travel a lot and my children at the moment do not seem interested in what I do. Surely my husband, aunt and baby sitter help me: I make my children feel protected. After dinner I answer the latest mail, I put my children in bed and think back to my day to make sure everything has been done, both on personal and working level.

What is your goal, from a business point of view?

I would like to dress the first female President of the United States of America.

Your models are a melting pot of faces and cultures. How do you choose them?

When I choose models, as far as I can, I follow a general view, or I try to make it clear that I want equilibrium in the differences of faces and cultures.

Is there anybody you would like to collaborate with?

I like to meet artists and artisans of every latitude, that, like me, want to play with past and present still remaining contemporary. Because this is for me the secret of true elegance.

Has anyone encouraged you or inspired you in these years?

Among the other people I absolutely must thank, especially for unconditional trust, Franca Sozzani, Simonetta Gianfelici, Marina Guidi and Ambra Lucidi. The list of courageous women is still long and continues to grow.

What advice would you like to give to young people who want to follow your footsteps?

Every designer, as well as every individual, should never fear to show his DNA and the uniqueness that distinguishes him/her. This is the best advice I have received and I want to share right now.

Interview by Barbara Palladino

© Stella Jean 

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